Pimplesand Not On Your Face
Well, at least its not as obvious as a big zit on your forehead? These tiny blisters dont always occur, but when they do, theres a good chance you have genital herpes. Like any miserable pimple, they eventually crust over and scab, says Jennifer Berman, M.D., a co-host on The Doctors. Its not necessarily on the genital areasometimes its in the crease of the underwear or closer to the buttock, she says.
Is That Spot A Pimple Or A Cold Sore
Acne is the most common skin condition in teens and young adults in the United States, and its increasingly common among women in their thirties, forties, and fifties. It can cause a range of blemishes variously known as blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules , cysts, and nodules, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
Acne is sometimes confused with oral herpes because of the way a breakout looks. Although oral herpes sores usually appear as small, clear blisters filled with fluid, in some instances they can look more like the reddened skin and pimples associated with acne. However, herpes is typically associated with more itchiness and pain than acne.
And whereas oral herpes sores are usually found on the mouth, lips, chin, cheeks, or nose, acne can break out on any area of the face as well as on the neck, chest, back, and shoulders.
Acne is caused by excess skin oil, clogged pores, and bacteria not the herpes virus. Hormones, stress, certain medicines, and sometimes diet can trigger or worsen acne outbreaks. While a single pimple may clear up in a few days, a larger acne outbreak may last for weeks to months.
Acne is not contagious, and topical and oral medication can help heal pimples, stop new pimples from forming, and prevent scars. To avoid scarring, dont squeeze or pop pimples.
How To Prevent Herpes
But most people have sex at some point in their lives, so knowing how to have safer sex is important. Using protection like condoms and dental dams when you have sex helps to lower your risk of getting an STD.
Herpes can live on areas of your body that arent protected by condoms , so condoms wont always protect you from herpes. But they do lower your chances of getting herpes.
Dont have sex with anyone during a herpes outbreak, because thats when it spreads most easily. But herpes can also spread when there are no sores or symptoms, so its important to use condoms and dental dams, even if everything looks and feels A-OK.
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What Does Genital Herpes Look Like
Many people who have genital herpes dont show symptoms, or the symptoms are so mild they dont notice them so they might not even know they have it. When herpes does cause symptoms, the most common one is sores and blisters that show up on the parts of your body where the infection lives. This is called an outbreak.
Send The Message Before You Have Sex
The conversation needs to happen before having sex and hopefully not in the heat of the moment. Alexandra Harbushka, founder of Life With Herpes and spokesperson for Meet People With Herpes, says a great way to lead with the topic is talking about both parties sexual health, and insisting that you both get tested.
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Is There Any Resistance To Genital Herpes Medication
Resistance to drugs that treat genital herpes even after 20 years of use is very rare. Herpes medications may not work as well in patients who are very immunosuppressed and have been treated with these drugs for a long time. Each individuals response to treatment may vary. In some cases, patients may need more drugs to suppress their viral outbreaks than others.
What Is The Difference Between Genital Herpes And Genital Warts
Both genital herpes and genital warts are STIs, are spread through skin-to-skin contact, and are caused by a virus. But the viruses that cause genital herpes and genital warts are different:
- Herpes simplex virus is the virus that causes genital herpes.
- Human papillomavirus is the virus that causes genital warts.
There is no cure for either genital herpes or genital warts. But, different medicines can help manage the symptoms of herpes and treat the complications of HPV infections that can cause genital warts.
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Where Can I Get Tested For Herpes
To get a private herpes test, you can use a service that doesnt accept insurance so that no one else is notified that you were tested. This is up to you, since you can also have your doctor test you with a blood test or a swab. Be warned, though, that for swabs to be accurate they need to be done within 24-48 hours at most of a blister forming.
You can use this website for a 100% confidential STD test that you order online and then have done in a lab of your choice near you. The site says it will only take a few minutes to do so you can get peace of mind fast and privately.
Recurrent Episodes Of Genital Herpes
Recurrences are usually less painful and shorter in duration than the first episode of genital herpes. Over time, episodes usually become less frequent and may eventually stop altogether. Infections caused by HSV1 are less likely to recur in the genital area than infections caused by HSV2.
Recurrences may be triggered by:
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How Is Genital Herpes Treated
There is no cure for the herpes simplex virus. The blisters usually heal and go by themselves, so you may not always need treatment. There is antiviral medicines for herpes, which can: shorten outbreaks, relieve discomfort and stop symptoms from getting worse.
The antiviral treatment is most effective when you take it within the first five days of symptoms appearing. Avoid touching the blisters as this can also increase the risk of spreading the infection. If your herpes treatment requires you to apply cream to a sore, just gently pat the cream on, being careful not to rub around the surrounding area.
You can ease your symptoms by:
- keeping the affected area clean using plain or salt water to prevent blisters or ulcers from becoming infected
- applying petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, to any blisters or ulcers to reduce the pain when passing urine
- asking a healthcare provider to recommend painkilling creams
- avoiding tight clothing because it may irritate the blisters and ulcers.
Dont have sex until you or your partner have finished your treatment, and the blisters or ulcers have gone. If its your first outbreak, its sometimes advised that you check back with a healthcare provider before having sex again, to ensure that your symptoms have gone.
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How Do You Know If You Have Genital Herpes
The only way to know if you have genital herpes is by amedical exam. Your health care provider can examineyou and test for it. Lab samples are taken from a sore,blister, or blood. Your health care provider may ask totest you for other infections at the same time.
Tell current and most recent sex partners of your herpes infection.
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Are Cold Sores Ever Serious
Medical attention is very rarely needed for cold sores.In rare cases, a facial cold sore may affect one eye . This will be a recurrence, after a previous cold sore infection. If one eye is tingling and sore or red, a GP or an optician can check if the cause is herpes simplex virus. If it is, you may be referred to a specialist eye hospital.
A few unlucky people get them too often. Antiviral tablets can be prescribed by a doctor or see our self-help ideas above.
People with areas of broken skin should be careful during their first infection as sores may spread over the area of broken skin.
People with weakened immune systems may need medication to prevent cold sores.
Newborn babies should not be exposed to cold sore virus if you get cold sores, dont kiss babies!
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Treatment Of An Initial Outbreak
The first outbreak of genital herpes is usually much worse than recurrent outbreaks. Symptoms tend to be more severe and to last longer. Your provider will prescribe one of the three antiviral medications, which you will take for 7 to 10 days. If your symptoms persist, treatment may be extended. An acyclovir ointment may also be prescribed for topical treatment of initial genital herpes.
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How Do You Get Herpes
There are two different herpes viruses: Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 and Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 .
While rare, a mother can pass genital herpes to the baby during vaginal childbirth.
Herpes is most easily transmitted when sores are open and wet, because fluid from herpes blisters easily spreads the virus. But herpes can also shed and be passed to others when there are no sores and the skin looks totally normal. Most people get herpes from someone who does not have any sores. When used consistently and correctly, condoms help protect against herpes and many other STDs.
What Are The Chances Of A Woman Giving A Man Herpes
The general rate of transmission of a person who has had herpes to their regular partner is about 10 percent per year, but the annual rate rises if the infected partner is a male. Unfairly, the female partner has a 20 percent chance of becoming infected, while the male partners risk is less than 10 percent.
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What Is Herpes Simplex
Herpes simplex is one of the most frequent infections of mankind throughout the world. There are two main types of herpes simplex virus type 1, which is mainly associated with facial infections and type 2, which is mainly genital, although there is considerable overlap.
Both type 1 and type 2 herpes simplex viruses reside in a latent state in the nerves that supply sensation to the skin. With each episode of herpes simplex, the virus grows down the nerves and out into the skin or mucous membranes where it multiplies, causing the clinical lesion. After each episode, it dies back up the nerve fibre and enters the resting state again.
Tips To Soothe The Pain
- Take aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen .
- Place lukewarm or cool cloths on the sore place.
- Take lukewarm baths.
Questions to ask your doctor
- What is the best treatment for me?
- Are there any side effects to my treatment?
- Is it safe to have unprotected sex if I dont have any sores?
- Can I give myself genital herpes if I also have oral herpes?
- Can I give someone else herpes even if Im not having an outbreak?
- What is the best way to prevent herpes outbreaks?
- Can I live a normal life with herpes?
- Am I at risk of developing any other diseases?
- Are there any support groups in my area?
- If I give my baby herpes, what is the treatment?
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What To Do When Youre Diagnosed With Herpes
It can be shocking to hear the word herpes in the doctors office. If youre caught off guard or overwhelmed, you may not register what your medical provider is telling you, says Dr. Navya Mysore, family doctor and primary care provider.
Mysore says genital herpes can be caused by HSV-1 or HSV-2. HSV-1 is most commonly related to cold sores, which a large amount of the population have. However, HSV-1 can also be the virus that causes genital herpes and HSV-2 can be the virus that gives you cold sores, she says.
While at the doctors office, dont be afraid to ask all the questions you may have, and make sure you ask for clarification if you dont understand something.
He says herpes outbreak prevention may involve taking a once- or twice-daily antiviral medication, and the treatment of active outbreaks involves topical treatment, an antiviral medication, and sometimes a painkiller. Maintaining a consistent medication schedule is key to successfully managing herpes and preventing active outbreaks, he explains.
Between your appointments, create a list of questions you have about your diagnosis. That way you wont forget anything.
What To Look Out For
“Genital herpes outbreaks can differ in severity. While some people encounter multiple painful blisters, some only have one single sore.” – Dr Zenon Andreou
“Genital herpes outbreaks can differ in severity. While some people encounter multiple painful blisters, some only have one single sore.”
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Genital Herpes And Pregnancy
Women with herpes before pregnancy can usually expect to have a healthy baby and a vaginal delivery.
If you have genital herpes during pregnancy, theres a risk your baby could develop a serious illness called neonatal herpes.
This can be fatal, but most babies recover with antiviral treatment.
The risk of your baby getting neonatal herpes is low if you have had genital herpes before.
Its higher if you get genital herpes for the first time in pregnancy.
What Does Herpes Simplex Feel Like And What Does It Look Like
The very first infection is often unnoticed as it may only produce a short-lived redness of the skin. Sometimes, however, a first infection can make a person feel very unwell with a temperature, swollen lymph glands and soreness and blisters in the mouth, on the lips or elsewhere on the skin.
The virus may lie dormant in the nerve endings for some time but when it becomes active again, the first symptom is a burning or stinging pain at the affected site, followed by pink bumps and small blisters. The blisters quickly dry and crust over, and the areas usually heal within a few days. Symptoms may recur at the same place or nearby.
If herpes simplex virus infects the eye, it causes pain, discharge and sensitivity to light, and can cause scarring.
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Can Herpes Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent getting herpes is to not have sex with anyone who has the virus. It can be spread even when the person who has it isnt showing any symptoms. If your partner has herpes, there is no way of knowing for sure that you wont get it.
There is no time that is completely safe to have sex and not spread herpes. If you have herpes, you must tell your sex partner. You should avoid having sex if you have any sores. Herpes can spread from one person to another very easily when sores are present.
You should use condoms every time you have sex. They can help reduce the risk of spreading herpes. But its still possible to spread or get herpes if youre using a condom.
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Pimples Test Negative For All These Tests
What do I do now?
Once you successfully identify the nature of your sores, which should be an easy task now that you know what herpes looks like, the management is not that complex either. Since pimples are a hygiene issue, it only means a more thorough cleaning with effective products such as acne ointments, antibacterial soap and creams, oil ointments for inflammation, and patting with a warm, wet cloth a few times a day.
On the contrary, if you have even a little doubt that your sores may be herpes, you should visit your primary care physician and get an anti-viral prescription. Herpes may be incurable but anti-viral is more than enough to stop it from affecting your quality of life at all. Early identification is the key to a better life.
I am Jeannette, the medical writing specialist here at Family Medicine Austin. I have over five years of experience working with a range of medical and healthcare across the U.S.
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Other Symptoms You May Experience
Some people get flu-like symptoms during a herpes infection. They ache and have a fever. Having swollen lymph nodes around the area of the outbreak also is common. People with genital herpes may have a burning sensation when urinating. Sometimes they have trouble urinating.
If you have pain or a gritty feeling in your eyes, it’s possible that the herpes infection has spread to your eyes. Fluid leaking from the eye or sensitivity to light are other signs of an eye infection related to herpes. Get immediate medical attention if you think you have a herpes infection in your eyes. Permanent damage is possible.
What You Need To Know
- Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes.
- Oral herpes can be spread through intimate contact with someone who is infected.
- Oral herpes can be difficult to diagnose. Often confused with many other infections, it can only be confirmed with a virus culture called PCR, blood test or biopsy. PCR is the preferred test for diagnosing herpes infections.
- The best treatment for oral herpes is antiviral oral medication. Symptomatic treatment may include antiviral ointment, over-the-counter topical anesthetics or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents.
Whether you call it a cold sore or a fever blister, oral herpes is a common infection of the mouth area that is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 . Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 90 percent of adults have been exposed to the virus by age 50.
Once infected, a person will have herpes simplex virus for the rest of his or her life. When inactive, the virus lies dormant in a group of nerve cells. While some people never develop any symptoms from the virus, others will have periodic outbreaks of infections.
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